Forests are protected by a law that does not exist: Illegal logging is rampant, fines are small and supervision is weak

Forests are legally recognized as a common good, therefore it is necessary to protect them and use them sustainably, and make efforts to reduce and/or completely eliminate all destructive and especially illegal activities. Forests and forest lands in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina occupy an area of ​​about 1,518,466 ha, of which 1,241,336.1 ha or 82% are owned by the state, and about 277,130 ha or 18% are privately owned and owned by other legal entities.

Citizens are often the first witnesses of illegal activities in the forest, but they do not know how to recognize it or how to report it. The profession says that in this process we should all work together, both the government and citizens as someone who is in direct contact with illegal logging.

What we must remind, and what deviates from the fact that forests are protected by law, is that there is no Law on Forests in the Federation of BiH, the Law on Forests of FBiH was declared unconstitutional back in 2009, and two years after that, more precisely, in December 2011. , and the Regulation on FBiH Forests, so that since 2011 there has been no Law on FBiH Forests.

So far, the cantons have adopted their own laws on forests, based on which forest resources are managed, all except Herzegovina-Neretva, which still does not have a cantonal Law on Forests.

There are also four forestry companies that were established during the validity of the Law, but they continue to operate as if the law existed. What is known is that the Decision on their suspension from the forestry inspection was issued back in 2009, that they do not have management contracts and that they do not have consent to a management plan that should be issued either by the federal or cantonal ministry.

Thanks to this kind of lawlessness, favorable conditions are created for corrupt activities when it comes to forest assets.

Numerous associations make superhuman efforts, often being attacked, in order to point out existing problems, and enable the citizens that if they notice or suspect that such actions are being carried out in a certain area, they have the opportunity to report them somewhere.

Lejla Hukić, project coordinator at the FEA Initiative for Forestry and Environment Sarajevo told that their initiative is currently implementing the second part of the project, the first pilot phase of which was implemented in 2021 and early 2022. This second phase began in May of this year, and is being implemented within the broader program “Support to citizens in the fight against corruption” whose primary implementer is CCI, with the financial support of USAID.

“We are talking about the application “Let’s protect the forests”, which has been active since September 2021 in the area of ​​the Sarajevo Canton and the Zenica-Doboj Canton, and soon the same will be available in an improved form in the Una-Sana, Herzegovina-Neretva, Central Bosnia and Tuzla areas. canton. For now, speaking only about KS and ZDK, there are a little less than a hundred applications received through the application, correctly submitted” , said Hukić.


The project “Application for anonymous reporting of illegal activities in forestry with the help of citizens” is implemented by the non-governmental organization Initiative for Forestry and the Environment as part of the “Support to citizens in the fight against corruption” program.

Dženan Bećirović, assistant professor at the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Sarajevo, told that the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Sarajevo, through scientific and research activities, deals with science-based approaches for the prevention and fight against corruption in forestry.

“Through participation in projects and work with forestry operatives, our researchers actively participated in the creation of Action Plans for the prevention and fight against corruption in forestry, which were adopted by public companies for forest management. In our research and activities, we are faced with a very pronounced negative discourse in the public space, regarding the management of forests, so regular logging and other regular activities are often labeled as illegal and illegal, even though they have all the elements provided for by the current legal regulations and are aligned with good forest management practices” , said Bećirović.

Ljela Hukić explains that it is noticeable that citizens most often select the option “illegal logging” in the application when registering for what they suspect or know to be an illegal activity. But he reminds that in the end, the competent authorities can assess whether it is really a well-founded report or not.

According to available data, Hukić says that the problem of illegal logging is present in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“For years, the FEA organization has been working on various regional and local projects related to this issue, including research that included respondents directly from the forestry sector, and what we can generally conclude from our work, but also from the official publicly available reports of the relevant institutions, is that is the problem of illegal logging present in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the most common type of illegal activity. Unfortunately, we cannot specify the scale or scope of these activities. However, the economic, sociological and biological consequences are already present, and in the long term highly expected, if we do not make joint efforts in this fight”,  says Hukić.

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry in its analysis – Information on forest management in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2021 says that we should also bear in mind the fact that in most forestry companies there is a problem of illegal logging, which the competent institutions have not been able to solve for many years. .

There are no more precise records on illegal logging in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, except for rough estimates that indicate the large consequences of these activities, both economic and political in nature.

According to the preliminary results of II. According to the State Forest Inventory (II. DIŠ), of the total estimated volume of felling in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 21% of the felled wood is not registered, that is, it has the character of illegal felling.

Of the total volume of logging, about 82% of registered logging and 77% of unregistered logging were realized in high forests.

The lack of forest wood assortments on the market is partially compensated by criminal activities. When the local population is not able to obtain firewood in a timely manner in a legal way, they often decide to procure it illegally.


The Ministry explains that the small number of verdicts and sentences is counterproductive, they represent an incentive for forest thieves who cause enormous damage in state forests year after year.

The question arises of the expediency of filing reports, i.e. exposing forest guards to dangers when other administrative bodies and judicial authorities do not protect state property, i.e. do not resolve in a timely manner criminal and misdemeanor reports filed due to illegal forest cutting, usurpation of state forests and forest land, exploitation of industrial mineral raw materials and Fig. The implementation of the Government’s “Action Plan for Suppressing Illegal Activities in the Forestry and Wood Industry Sector in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina” is called into question by the inadequate organization of the guard service in the forestry administrations that have been established, the lack of equipment of people and the lack of up-to-date judicial authorities. This situation has been present in the territory of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for many years.

After reports of illegal actions, competent institutions can take different steps.

This includes conducting investigations, field inspections, identification of perpetrators, legal proceedings and law enforcement to suppress illegal activities.

It is also possible to take preventive measures, such as strengthening surveillance, educating the public and raising awareness of the importance of forest conservation.

In particular, applications through the “Keep the Forests” application are sent directly to the addresses of cantonal public companies, the administration for inspection affairs and the administration for forestry.

Hukić says that according to the available data, it is clear that the situation is not great, but that there is an interest in action.

“Our experience with the project “Application for anonymous reporting of illegal activities in forestry with the help of citizens” indicates the presence of the authorities’ interest in tackling the problem of illegal activities in forestry. We have noticed that there is indeed a willingness to act, but we recognize that more concrete and decisive actions are needed in order to solve the problem in a comprehensive way. We believe that the support and cooperation of the authorities with civil society organizations and citizens is necessary and crucial for achieving progress in the fight against illegal activities in forestry” , says Hukić.

He emphasizes that it is crucial to establish strong law enforcement mechanisms, improve supervision, encourage education and raise awareness. Only concrete actions are necessary to achieve efficiency in solving this problem.